How Distracting Are Shoulders?

by DUSTIN NEWMAN

Guest Writer

School dress codes dictate what students can and cannot wear, as deemed appropriate by school administrators and school district officials. Some of the banned items include clothing with “writing, pictures, or any other insignia which are crude, vulgar, profane, or sexually suggestive; which bear drug, alcohol, or tobacco company advertising, promotions, or likeness; which promote violence, illegal activity, or relate to gang affiliation or activity; or which advocate racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual orientation prejudice,” and spaghetti straps.

These dress codes, far from just at El Diamante, have been recently criticized as being sexist because they place more restrictions on women’s clothing than men’s. However, this sexism may go further than just the writing of the dress codes. Banned items that are traditionally worn more by men are less enforced than those worn by women. For example, many male students at El Diamante wear large armhole tank tops without issue, as well as sunglasses indoors, both of which are banned by Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) dress code.

In order to see where our student body stood on the reported sexism of school dress codes, I took a student poll. The poll included 183 students from eight different homerooms. I asked them all a simple question: “Do you think school dress codes are sexist?” If a student believed they were, they would raise their hand. Out of the 183 students polled, 148 of them believed school dress codes were sexist. In other words, 81% of polled students believe that school dress codes are discriminatory against women.

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81% of students believed that current school dress codes are sexist.

Besides the data represented, many students, both male and female, also informally expressed contempt for the idea that women’s shoulders are a “distraction” to learning. This trend continued without regard to class, such that freshman and sophomores held the same opinion that juniors and seniors did.

This data argues strongly against the school district’s belief that female bodies are a disruption to the “learning environment” and shows that most students do not agree with the current dress codes. It also contradicts the claim that school dress codes are fair and do not discriminate based on sex.

While the school district is unlikely to change its mind on the issue, one thing is apparent: the students of El Diamante do not support the current policies.

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